by Allen Tate
Quen das finem, rex magne, dolorum?
Where we went in the boat was a long bay
a slingshot wide, walled in by towering stone–
Peaked margin of antiquity’s delay,
And we went there out of time’s monotone:
Where we went in the black hull no light moved
But a gull white-winged along the feckless wave,
The breeze, unseen but fierce as a body loved,
That boat drove onward like a willing slave:
Where we went in the small ship the seaweed
Parted and gave to us the murmuring shore
And we made feast and in our secret need
Devoured the very plates Aeneas bore:
Where derelict you see through the low twilight
The green coast that you, thunder-tossed, would win,
Drop sail, and hastening to drink all night
Eat dish and bowl–to take that sweet land in!
Where we feasted and caroused on the sandless
Pebbles, affecting our day of piracy,
What prophecy of eaten plates could landless
Wanderers fulfil by the ancient sea?
We for that time might taste the famous age
Eternal here yet hidden from our eyes
When lust of power undid its stuffless rage;
They, in a wineskin, bore earth’s paradise.
Let us lie down once more by the breathing side
Of Ocean, where our live forefathers sleep
As if the Known Sea still were a month wide–
Atlantis howls but is no longer steep!
What country shall we conquer, what fair land
Unman our conquest and locate our blood?
We’ve cracked the hemispheres with careless hand!
Now, from the Gates of Hercules we flood
Westward, westward till the barbarous brine
Whelms us to the tired land where tasseling corn,
Fat beans, grapes sweeter than muscadine
Rot on the vine: in that land were we born.
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